Let's face it - most of us consciously start down the preparedness path at some point. Whether it's stocking up on some extra food and water, putting together a bug out bag, buying a home defense gun or something as simple as starting to carry a pocket knife--you start gotta somewhere.
Personally, I started off more down the every day carry route, while I was on a full-time mission for the LDS church. I worked in New Jersey--in such glamorous locales as Newark, Paterson and Jersey City. I was out walking around for 12 hours a day - lots of time in projects and all sorts of interesting places. I had a shoulder bag to carry books and handouts in, and it wasn't too long before I started adding some basics to it to make life easier. A good water bottle, a flashlight, little first aid kit, spare cash and so on. I bought a decent pocket knife and started carrying that and was surprised at how handy it was. And so on.
That was probably my first real, conscious trip down the path. I had always kind of been of that mindset--Alas, Babylon and the Road Warrior were favorites of mine as a teenager--but that was really where I started taking action.
That's probably why I recommend most people start with every day carry stuff. It's practical, it's going to get used, it's going to be with you in most emergencies and it's not going to sit in a closet. If you don't have those basics squared away, why would you put resources into putting together a bug out bag?
It's also why I recommend quality stuff--I still have almost all of the items I scrimped and saved for at that time, and it all still works. Mountainsmith Rocket, Streamlight flashlight, Leatherman Squirt, Kershaw pocket knife. It's mostly worn and most serves backup duty, but it all still works totally well.
Anyways, interested to hear from you guys and gals--let's get nostalgic. What did you start with?